Media Downplay Rocket Attacks on Israel
September 12, 2007
Dear HonestReporting Canada subscriber:
Six years after the deadly September 11 terror attacks, it’s easy for North Americans to forget that the democratic country most directly targeted by radical Islamic terrorists today is Israel. As Israelis welcome the Jewish New Year, they contemplate yet another year of violent Arab attacks designed to injure, kill and intimidate them. Approaching its 60th year of statehood, the small island of democracy in the Middle East awakes each day to news of fresh attacks – some threatened, some foiled, and some successful.
By far the most frequent site of attacks against Israelis is in southern Israel, and especially the small Israeli town of Sderot bordering Gaza. In the last 7 years, 12 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza; in the last 5 years, over 2,000 Palestinian Kassam rockets have exploded. But if you get your news from the Canadian media, you might barely know about the deadly game of “rocket roulette” that Sderot residents are caught in.
Most Attacks Ignored
An old news maxim says, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Now that 69 Israeli soldiers were wounded by an exploding Kassam rocket fired from Gaza, Canadian media have devoted some coverage to this latest attack. But what of the many other attacks that aren’t quite as dramatic?
On September 3, a Palestinian rocket landed in a courtyard next to a crowded daycare centre — one of seven rockets fired at Sderot that day. And on September 6, a Kassam rocket landed near a Sderot high school. No one was injured in these attacks; as a result, most Canadian media ignored these narrowly-averted catastrophes. Click the image below, or go here, to view footage from the September 3 attack.
Failing to Name the Aggressor
Even as Canadian media reported the September 11 rocket attack that injured 69 Israeli soldiers, the headlines accompanying the news reports were woefully inadequate. With the exception of the Vancouver Sun, almost all major news outlets failed to identify who committed the attack. (One wonders if the media would neglect to mention who fired the rockets if the rockets were being launched from Israel.)
– CTV.ca: “Rocket wounds dozens at Israeli army base” – CBC Online: “At least 60 wounded as rocket hits Israeli army base” – Toronto Star: “Rocket strike injures 36 Israelis” – Ottawa Citizen: “Rocket attacks injure 36 Israeli soldiers” – Victoria Times Colonist: “Gaza rocket wounds 36 Israeli soldiers” – CFRA.com: “Rocket Attack on Israeli Army Camp” – Montreal Gazette: “36 soldiers hurt in Gaza rocket strike” (Not online)
How This Distorts Canadians’ Understanding of the Region
The media’s failure to report on these attacks creates a false sense of reality about what is happening in Israel. This distortion of the news by omission (failing to report relevant information) is just as dangerous as distortion of the news by commission (reporting unfair or inaccurate information). If the Canadian media don’t report on the attacks against Israel, how can they contextualize the eventual Israeli response? The news media need to begin telling the truth about the ongoing, relentless war of rockets against Israel.
How the Media Can Improve
HonestReporting Canada calls on Canadian news organizations to avoid the urge to give in to “story fatigue,” in which significant events that occur repeatedly eventually become part of the background noise. The fact that rockets keep falling in Israeli school zones is still newsworthy, even if is becoming an all-too-common occurrence.
How You Can Make a Difference
HonestReporting Canada is at the forefront of ensuring fair and accurate news coverage of Israel and the Middle East. We communicate with news media on a daily basis to correct their errors and to promote more professional coverage of the region. But we need your help.
- Donate: Support HonestReporting Canada so we can continue holding the media accountable
- Spread the word: Forward this alert to your friends and encourage them to subscribe
- Take action: Write letters to Canadian media outlets asking them to give more coverage to the embattled city of Sderot. See our Contact the Media page for contact information.
Pointers for contacting the media: State your position clearly in your own words, remain rational and polite, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us you took action. To be considered for publication, letters must include sender’s name, address and phone number; street names and phone numbers will not be published.